D&D 5E Why Green Flame Blade is Over Rated- And You Are Doing it Wrong.

Zardnaar

Legend
On these forusm people seem to have got it into their heads that Green Flame Blade is actually good. Personally I think it is a trap in most cases and you are doing it wrong.

At the most basic level GFB lets you deal extra damage and it looks tempting for classes like the Rogue. You spend your action and get an ability score to damage with extra dice to damage at higher levels. You might also get some splash damage on adjacent targets perhaps an extra 1 or 2s8 in most cases perhaps more if you are playing in a high level game.

So who benefits the most from GFB (in theory?).

1. Classes with only 1 attack.
2. Gish based classes that get cantrips (Eldritch Knight/Arcane trickster)
3. Races that get a bonus cantrip (high elf)
4. Classes that can make attacks as a bonus action and cast a spell (level 7+ Eldritch Knights, 14+ Valor Bards).

And of course you have to melee with it so I am assuming melee damage. Fire is also a fairly common immunity/resistance so there is also that to factor in. You can also pick the cantrip up via the Magic Initiate Feat, Spellsniper feat or multiclassing.

So I will go through the list. Classes with 1 attack. The obvious contender here is Rogue and a high elf makes a decent Rogue character an arcane trickster can also get it. Wizards, Warlocks, and Sorcerers can also easily get it, Druids and Clerics do not generally get it although they could if they really wanted to but due to MAD its probably a bad idea.

So the spell looks great for a Rogue. Buzzer goes off beep wrong. The reason is because of opportunity cost that being you are not duel wielding since you are a melee based Rogue. Duel wielding as a Rogue is like pseudo advantage to hit and doubles your chance of landing a sneak attack and you can deal an extrra 1d4 or 1d6 damage with it. This makes GFB entirely pointless at level 1-4 for the most part and debatable for level 5-10. An extra d8 damage vs a 1d6 and doubling your chance to sneak attack. It gets even worse if you have a multiclass Rogue with a single fighter level or several levels of ranger. If you want a optimised Rogue BTW add in a fighter level or some ranger levels. Some Rogues may not want to dual wield (Masterminds, Thieves with healer feat) but you actually notice the difference a lot vs Rogues that do dual wield especially multi class ones. Use a cantrip to deal more damage but actually deal less damage makes perfect sense. 5 levels of hunter ranger also brings more to the damage party than 3d6 sneak attack (3 or 4 attacks a round, dex to damage with your off hand etc). As a Rogue don't do it basically at least from level 1-10 and if I put my powergamer hat on I would not bother after level 11 either (I would also not be a single classed Rogue).

This leaves some of the other classes with single attacks that might want to pick it up. Bladelock is an obvious one but you can't have multiple attacks with GFB so it is kind of pointless after level 5. From an optimisation PoV don't play a single classed bladelock. I could see the occasional dragon sorcerer wanting to use it in melee, and the even rarer wizard but I would not be rushing to use it although it is useful. It is quite good for most clerics if they can acquire it somehow, Druids are kind of like wizards when it comes to melee combat and a Moon Druid in melee will likely be in animal form so has no use for it.

This leaves gish based classes like the Eldritch Knight and Valor Bard. For the most part you have to make a choice between multiple attacks and using GFB from level 5 onwards. A Valor Bard can actually use it well at level 14 assuming they have not got a better use for their bonus action such as Polearm Master but they have to get it via feat, race or magical secrets at level 10. A Eldritch Knight can pick it up at level 3 but it obsoletes itself to some extent at level 5. It is useful again at level 7 through to 10 and then you are better off having 3 attacks a round at level 11. It also does not play nice for eldritch Knights if you have other uses for your bonus action (shied master feat, polearm master feat, great weapon master feat). So if you avoid tasking the best feats in the game and decide tyo use FB there are 6 levels from level 1-10 (3,4,7,8,9,10) where the spell is actually decent with 2 more levels if you are a high elf (1 and 2).

So in conclusion basically don't bother with GFB unless you are a cleric for the most part, or an High Elf Eldritch Knight that probably won't hit level 11 or a Sorcerer/Wizard/Warlock with aggressive/suicidal tendencies.
 

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mellored

Explorer
So the spell looks great for a Rogue. Buzzer goes off beep wrong. The reason is because of opportunity cost that being you are not duel wielding since you are a melee based Rogue. Duel wielding as a Rogue is like pseudo advantage to hit.
While true, the rogue has a other uses for his bonus action. Hitting someone and running to safty beats hitting someone for slightly more damage and letting them hit you back.

Really, booming blade for rogues. Hit, disengage, and deal extra damage if they move. Particularly if your a faster race and they can't catch you.

Bladelock is an obvious one but you can't have multiple attacks with GFB so it is kind of pointless after level 5.
Tomelock, with green flameblade and shillelagh > bladelock.

It is quite good for most clerics if they can acquire it somehow
Arcana clerics can get it. Or magic initiate. Or high elf.

So in conclusion basically don't bother with GFB unless you are a cleric for the most part, or an High Elf Eldritch Knight that probably won't hit level 11 or a Sorcerer/Wizard/Warlock with aggressive/suicidal tendencies.
Your also missing warcaster. You only make a single attack as an OA. Though again that works better with booming blade.
You can also do something like get fire immunity, punch yourself, and auto-damage the guy next to you.


But yes, overall, green flameblade is only good for classes that couldn't deal melee damage in the first place.
 

nswanson27

First Post
GFB is situationally useful if you know that a target only has a few hp left. A rogue can let the splash damage finish it off and the remainder start on another target, rather than wasting the extra damage.
 

cbwjm

Legend
I use green flame blade because it's cool. I don't really care about eking out every little advantage to deal slightly more damage. If people want to optimise, fine, but I'm going with rule of cool.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Any gish that has things to do with bonus actions other than attack, GFB and Booming Blade are good options.

It would take some painfully boring combats for my rogues to only ever attack with their bonus actions.
 

briggart

Explorer
Most ways in which a rogue can access GFB also provide a way to access Find Familiar (granted, in some cases getting a familiar requires a larger opportunity cost than simply getting GFB), so the rogue can cast GFB and attack with advantage, which will be better than dual wielding.
 

hejtmane

Explorer
On an EK it is great at level 3,4 free side damage nothing to lose only one attack until level 5. Then starting at level 7 until level 11 (warcaster) it is a no brainier to use GFB or Booming blade every time unless you have the polearm feat.
 

Caliban

Rules Monkey
I love posts like this. "Why everyone except me is a moron, and let me explain why" - followed by a lot of half-baked, incomplete, or flat out incorrect assumptions. :)

Generally the title alone is enough to tip you off, and this one was no exception.
 

When I first saw GFB, I felt it might be OP. After seeing it in play, I find that it's right were it should be. It has the benefits of dealing some magical damage (not all, since the weapon damage is based on the weapon) if you need it, and the splash effect is useful against swarms. It's not an optimal choice for most characters, but it's not a trap (despite the OP opinion).
 

Ganymede81

First Post
I suspect the OP forgot that rogues get cunning action, and how not using an off-hand weapon frees up its use.


GFB and BB's problem is not necessarily with its damage (which is still a bit high considering it has a rider and it stacks on top of weapon damage), it is its weird progression. It falls into this weird niche where generally only characters with one attack like it; for some characters, the cantrips are a redundancy, but are no-brainers for other characters. That's bad design.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Also, any one mentioned Bladesingers, yet?

Seems like literally any gish that has good uses of their bonus action that aren't dual wielding will want it.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Optimizing the 5E Rogue for DPR is overrated and you're doing it wrong.

It's also completely unnecessary. Most classes can do plenty of damage, 5e monsters aren't mountains of HP, and regardless of edition, combat is only 1 part of the game.

Heck, my 4e rogues aren't optimized for DPR or NOva damage, because my 4e games don't revolve around combat, and I use the Monster Vault HP values so combat doesn't slow down due to HP inflation.

In 5e, I've got plenty of criticisms, but one thing is has going for it, is I don't need to mess with anything to keep damage optimization from being needed. It just isn't, right out of the box. I mean, it wasn't in the last editon, either, until somewhere around halfway through the level progression, and it was always really easy to fix, but whatever. The point is it's even less important in 5e.

Optimizing for DPR, especially when it's as small a difference as we're talking about here, at the expense of versatility...is just weird.
 

This is waaaay more attention devoted to a single cantrip that I would every devote to any spell short of wish. If I spent as much time thinking about the plot of my adventures as was spent planning and writing this post, I'd have a campaign worthy of publication. It's a lot of concern related to something that gets two or three minutes of screentime over the course of a single session...
 

It's best for (I'd even say essential to take full advantage of) Eldritch Knights. It is your best attack at levels 1-4, excellent at levels 7-10, still the best choice at 11-16th level when used against multiple targets, and at levels 17-19 it is simply the best option. The only levels where it isn't much use to an Eldritch Knight are 5-6, and 20 (and even then it can rock against multiple targets). The rest of the time, if your Eldritch Knight isn't using it they are doing it wrong.

Bards (Valor or Lore) are the other best choice for it. It's actually the easiest way to let a Lore Bard do something in melee. (Not excel by any means, but do something.)
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
It's best for (I'd even say essential to take full advantage of) Eldritch Knights. It is your best attack at levels 1-4, excellent at levels 7-10, still the best choice at 11-16th level when used against multiple targets, and at levels 17-19 it is simply the best option. The only levels where it isn't much use to an Eldritch Knight are 5-6, and 20 (and even then it can rock against multiple targets). The rest of the time, if your Eldritch Knight isn't using it they are doing it wrong.

Bards (Valor or Lore) are the other best choice for it. It's actually the easiest way to let a Lore Bard do something in melee. (Not excel by any means, but do something.)

same for non blade warlocks, I'd say, and any gish starting from a magic class but not using a gish focused subclass.
 


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